Fort George National Historic Site of Canada
Indian Council at Niagara
6. The following document is an excerpt from an Indian Council held between, Loyalist representatives, Six Nations Loyalists and the Algongkian Mississaugas (who claimed seasonal rights to the Niagara territory in question). As the council was assembled for significant treaty purposes, wampum belts (colourful beads made from shells worked into a belt).were exchanged to commemorate the event in a meaningful way to the Indian nations present. Although paper contracts and treaties were meaningful to European nations the records kept of significant First Nations events were based on oral tradition reinforced by ceremonial wampum belts.
INDIAN COUNCIL AT NIAGARA
A Meeting held at Niagara 22 nd May 1784 with the Mississaga Indians Accompanied by the Chiefs and Warriors of the Six Nations, Delawares & c.
Lieut. Colonel Hoyes 34th Regt.
Capt. Forbes 34th Regt.
Lt. Col. John Butler Dy Agent Indn Affairs.
Capt. Hamilton 8th Regt.
Major Potts. Corps Rangers.
Captain Parke 8th Regiment with many other officers of the Garrison.
Mr. Nicholas Stevens & Mr. William Bowen Interpreters.
After the usual Ceremonies and Compliments was made Pokquan a Mississaga Chief rose and spoke as follows:
Father . Some days ago your Message with the Belt was received desiring us to assemble at the great Council Fire, kindled at this place by the King our Father, we accordingly collected our people as soon as possible and are now ready to hear your business with us.
Returned the Belt.
Lieut. Colonel John Butler then spoke.
Children . I have received the Commander in Chief's order thro' Sir John Johnson, to purchase some Land the property of you the Mississagas laying between the Lakes Ontario, Huron & Erie, for the use of such of your Brethren of the Six Nations, as may wish to plant and Hunt thereon, as well as for an intended Settlement for such of His Majesty's faithful Subjects who have assisted him during the late War, as wish to settle and improve the same; it would be needless for me to add more at present as I have already explained every Circumstance of our present Business, as well as future intentions in as clear a light to you, the Chiefs, as in my power to do. Therefore expect your immediate Answer.
Pokquan Mississaga Speaker.
Father & Brethren
Six Nations. We have considered your request.
Father . We the Mississagas are not the owners of all the Land laying between the three Lakes, but we have agreed and are willing to transfer our right of soil & property to the King our Father, for the use of His People, and our Brethren the Six Nations from the Head of the Lake Ontario or the Creek Waghguata to the River La Tranche, then down that River until a South Course will strike the Mouth of Catfish Creek on Lake Erie, this tract of Land we imagine will be quite sufficient both for the King's people and our Brethren the Six Nations, who may wish to settle and Hunt thereon; Your request or proposal does not give us that trouble or concern, that you might imagine from some of our people the other day, that difficulty is intirely removed, we are Indians and consider ourselves and the Six Nations to be one and the same people, and agreeable to a former and mutual agreement we are bound to help each other. Brother, Captain Brant we are happy to hear that you intend to settle at the River Oswego with your people, we hope you will keep your young men in good order, as we shall be in one neighbourhood, and to live in friendship with each other as Brethren ought to do.
Children . I have paid strict attention to your Answer and I now thank vou for the Friendly attachment you show to your Brethren the Six Nations and I imagine that the Lands you have now agreed to dispose of will be satisfactory both to the Commander in Chief and Sir John Johnson. Your Brethren the Six Nations will Answer for themselves.